Rapid Increase in ER Visits For Young Girls With Self-Inflicted Injuries

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Melissa C. Mercado PhD, MSc, MA Behavioral scientist Division of Violence Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control CDC

Dr. Mercado

Dr. Melissa C. Mercado PhD, MSc, MA
Behavioral scientist
Division of Violence Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Suicide ranks as the 10th leading cause of death for all age groups combined and has been among the top 12 leading causes of death since 1975 in the U.S. In 2015, across all age groups, suicide was responsible for 44,193 deaths in the U.S., which is approximately one suicide every 12 minutes.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death among U.S. youth aged 10-24 years in 2015. Self-inflicted injury is one of the strongest risk factors for suicide.

This study examined trends in non-fatal self-inflicted injuries treated in hospital emergency departments (EDs) among youth aged 10 to 24 years in the United States from 2001-2015.  The overall weighted age-adjusted rate for this group increased by 5.7% annually during the 2008 to 2015 period.  Age-adjusted trends for males overall and across age groups remained stable throughout 2001-2015.  However, rates among females increased significantly, by 8.4% annually. The largest increase among females was observed among those aged 10-14 years, with an increase of 18.8% annually from 2009 to 2015.

self-harm-wikipedia James Heilman, MDMedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: From 2008 to 2015, the overall weighted age-adjusted self-inflicted injury ED visits rate for youth aged 10-24 years increased 5.7% per year.  Younger girls experienced the most pronounced increases in self-inflicted injury ED visit rates — among females aged 10 to 14 years, there was an 18.8% annual increase from 2009 to 2015. These findings underscore the need for the implementation of evidence-based, comprehensive suicide and self-harm prevention strategies within health systems and communities targeted at young people.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response:      Underlying reasons for the observed increasing trends, particularly among young females, warrant further study.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Suicide is preventable.  CDC released a technical package of policies, programs, and practices to help communities focus on strategies that have the best available evidence to prevent suicide. The technical package includes 7 strategies designed to work together to achieve the greatest impact possible.

  1. Strengthen economic supports
  2. Strengthen access and delivery of suicide care
  3.   Create protective environments
  4. Promote connectedness
  5. Teach coping and problem-solving skills
  6. Identify and support people at risk
  7. Lessen harms and prevent future risk

Strategies relevant to youth suicide prevention include strengthening access to and delivery of suicide care, creating protective environments, promoting youth connectedness, teaching coping and problem-solving skills, and identifying and supporting at-risk youth through evidence-based treatment strategies.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.


Melissa C. Mercado, Kristin Holland, Ruth W. Leemis, Deborah M. Stone, Jing Wang. Trends in Emergency Department Visits for Nonfatal Self-inflicted Injuries Among Youth Aged 10 to 24 Years in the United States, 2001-2015. JAMA. 2017;318(19):1931–1933. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.13317

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.


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Last Updated on November 21, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD